Last week saw the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for Shades of Fear, a new horror anthology featuring a collection of stories in which color either plays an important role or is otherwise prominently featured. Edited by Alison O’Toole and Ashanti Fortson, the anthology is set to include stories from creators including Fortson, Desolina Fletcher, Amber Huff, Mar Julia, Molly Mendoza, Grendel Menz, Tess Eneli Reid, Joy San, Olivia Stephens, Shannon Wright, and Jade Zhang. Today The Beat is pleased to present a look at a pair of previously-unreleased title pages/’covers’ for the stories by Tess Eneli Reid and Olivia Stephens, as well as a look at each artists’ process for creating the covers, from rough sketches to finished product.
Tess Eneli Reid‘s story for Shades of Fear is titled “Slip Stitch.” The story follows Rufus, a maintenance trainee in a nuclear plant whose existence slowly unravels as his routine takes him closer to the center of the reactor.
Reid described how the visuals of “Slip Stitch” reflect the journey Rufus takes over the course of the story:
In the comic, radiation is depicted through intricate embroidery-like designs inspired by the swirling and geometric patterns of traditional Eastern European textiles. “Slip Stitch” uses the architecture of this geometric and floral filigree for its panels and page layout, so the visual story integrates a changing atomic stability with eastern european designs. As the narrative unravels, the comic’s embroidery-like design prismatically unravels too.
Here’s their cover for the story:
Reid also described to The Beat how the cover represents the rest of the story:
The cover needed to marry the cosmic awe of the unseen force of radiation with the ostentatiousness of archaic Eastern European textile designs. The main character Rufus stares into something we can’t see yet, but his body unravels and integrates into the cosmic architecture of the looming designs. He’s powerless against the radiation that frays his world, but can’t help but try to see closer into the intricacy of this atomic construction that can destroy him.
And here’s their process art for the cover, with half-a-dozen cover designs sketched before the final cover’s completion:
Along with the cover process, Reid also provided character design art, and a rough sketch for an interior page from the story:
“Blue increasingly speckles Rufus’ world as he becomes more attuned to the reactor,” Reid said. “Astronauts often see blue stars as they are exposed to cosmic radiation, and the cosmic danger of radiation bleeds into Rufus’ world through these blue stars, changing his view and his path.”
Olivia Stephens‘s story, “Hyssop,” follows Rachel, a young woman working as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman and dealing with the unusual relationship between the woman and her daughter.
Here’s Stephens’s finished cover for the story:
My color approach for “Hyssop” is rooted in painterly pastels. I’m interested in using a soft visual language to depict a brutal narrative, and how those two opposing elements might create friction with each other on the page. I also love to try out different approaches when working on shorter comics, so this will be my first full-color comic using watercolor. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from Tyler Crook‘s process and incorporated some digital painting as well to create a hybrid process that I’m happy with.
Here’s a look at Stephens’s process for the cover, from the initial sketch, to watercolor process, to the scanned watercolors, to the digital final artwork minus the text.
Both of these finished covers are gorgeous, and combined with the other cover previews shown on the Kickstarter campaign page they’re a strong indicator of why Shades of Fear is a project worth supporting, and of why The Beat included it in our weekly Crowdfunding Round-Up last week. The campaign to fund the creation of the Shades of Fear anthology runs until Friday, October 22nd.